It appears Culver’s
is coming to town, a $2 million investment complete with ButterBurgers and a
frozen custard flavor of the day.
Katie Smith of
developer Smith Family Hospitality said after Thursday’s meeting of the
Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission that if the Town Council also gives its
approval, the new restaurant hopes to open in late summer.
Culver’s would be
located north of Speedway in Coffee Creek Center east of Indiana 49 across
from the Indiana Toll Road entrance. Because Coffee Creek was built as a
planned unit development with a separate PUD governing ordinance, both the
commission and council have to approve variances there.
On a 6-1 vote the
Plan Commission forwarded a favorable recommendation that Culver’s be
allowed to vary some of the PUD’s sign standards including having a slightly
larger monument sign with reader board. Member Thomas Kopko was the lone
balked at last month’s request for a 13 foot-tall monument sign --- twice as
tall as the PUD allows --- Smith attorney David Woodward opened Thursday’s
public hearing by offering to reduce the sign to 8 feet 4 inches tall and 6
feet 3 inches wide, the latter a 2-foot reduction from the original width
favorably recommended included outdoor seating for 24, directional signage
that also displays other wording and two oversize menu boards for the
comment no one spoke in favor. Planners did receive a letter from resident
Paul Kroeger opposed to a 13-foot tall sign saying it is not necessary and
would be detrimental to the aesthetic appeal of the area. An anonymous
letter also was received in opposition.
Woodward said the
Culver’s corporate office agreed to Chesterton’s request for a size
reduction and if approved the new monument sign would be shorter and 35
square feet smaller than the monument sign at the Valparaiso Culver’s
representatives present last night, including contractor Christopher McGuire
of McCon Building Corp., lobbied the Plan Commission to accept their
proposal, in part because of the sloping elevation of the Chesterton site.
Smith said they prefer having a masonry monument base surrounded by
attractive plantings instead of a reader board at ground level covered by
Commission and Town
Council member Emerson DeLaney said Speedway’s monument sign is within PUD
guidelines and the Bob Evans Restaurant across the street doesn’t even have
a monument sign, yet both appear to be thriving. DeLaney also listed several
Illinois Culver’s that have either smaller or no monument signs at all.
Kopko said he
agreed with DeLaney’s comments, especially when the Chesterton franchise was
asking for other sign variances too.
Smith said yes, the
Frankfort Culver’s doesn’t have a monument sign, but it ranks 87th of 90 in
Illinois Culver’s sales overall.
Woodward also said
there’s no evidence that the local Speedway and Bob Evans are in fact
performing well for their respective corporations.
Indiana 49 is heavily traveled and future development is coming to the area
so visual clutter should be avoided.
Sig Niepokoj questioned whether Culver’s will be a success or failure based
on less than 2 feet of sign height. Woodward said every inch is needed.
Smith said motorists won’t notice the sign height but they will be impressed
with colorful landscaping. She assured that her corporation wants to be a
good neighbor here.
Commission and Town
Council member Jeff Trout said it’s better to give up 14 inches to get a
landscaped, readable sign because the restaurant will create jobs. Member
Fred Owens agreed.
It’s now up to the
Town Council for a final decision whether to grant Culver’s requested
variances to the Coffee Creek PUD language that governs signs.
Planners sent a
second favorable recommendation to the Town Council on a 7-0 vote regarding
proposed changes to the town’s overall sign ordinance.
If approved, no
future distinction would be made between signage regulations for business
and industrial zoning districts to streamline the ordinance and make it
easier to understand.
Charles Parkinson, who over the past year assisted a committee that reviewed
the current sign rules line by line, described the changes. During a public
hearing Thursday, no one commented.
definitions in the ordinance were clarified; language was added in the case
of dynamic digital signs; restrictions on freestanding, monument and
speciality signs were updated; and confusion in the current regulations was
president George Stone said now a single business would be allowed a gross
amount of signage whether on the front, side or roof depending on the zoning
district and building.
any existing sign that doesn’t conform to the new ordinance revisions after
their adoption would be grandfathered and wouldn’t have to be modified
unless a major change was proposed.
Stone a member of the sign committee, said an attempt also was made to have
better control over signs along Indiana 49 through town.
Town manager Bernie
Doyle said a concern has been raised about the percentage of advertising
coverage that can be seen in or on business windows. The matter was
discussed but Stone suggested it be addressed later apart from the current
regulating what’s inside a business is difficult. Doyle said variances
granted to CVS and Ace Hardware to use 100 percent of certain window space
for advertising was done tastefully, but in some cases what’s being used in
windows as advertising looks unprofessional.